Ural environmentalists predict a low-carbon future in the region

Olga Podosenova

The Low-Carbon Future report was prepared by the Ural Ecological Union (non-profit organization) with the help of experts from the Ural Federal University, the Institute of global climate and environment of Roshydromet, Ecodefense international and others.

According to the authors, the main goal of the paper is to promote the idea of a low-carbon future in Sverdlovsk region, and that not only is this future a mere reality, but a sheer necessity and the only possible development scenario where social and financial wellbeing is ensured with consideration to the territory’s natural potential and with no harmful impact for both nature and the people.

Ural ecologists have analyzed energy estimations for three scenarios of regional economic development and concluded that at presently, all strategies and plans are based on the parameters of the third (the most energy-consuming) scenario of generating capacities’ and electricity infrastructure development scenario. Interestingly, an all-Russian report by RAO UES (that predicts energy consumption growth in the country by 5% per year), is not proving itself right – the GDP is not growing as fast as planned and there is no need for a huge energy capacity growth both in the regions and in Russia as a whole.

According to experts’ estimations, Sverdlovsk region is able to save up to 48% of all its energy resources. In 2008 the Urals consumed 47 million of tons of oil equivalent, while up to 23 mil tons of it can be saved by using the energy resources in a more rational way. There is a similar energy saving potential in all spheres of economy.

The authors of the report came to the conclusion that there is a direct correlation between GHG emissions dynamics and the climate. They also presume that specific oil consumption analysis may be part of an integrated approach to environmental impact assessment, including the GHGs.

It is stated that Sverdlovsk region already has the base for low-carbon economy development. Regional authorities are strongly pro-climate: they established a commission to facilitate the implementation of Kyoto mechanisms, GHG emissions inventory has been carried out, a number of international projects on energy efficiency are beginning to be implemented. Besides, Sverdlovsk region is planning to become a pilot territory for regional low-carbon strategy development.

The implementation of low-carbon strategy in the region would mean increased energy efficiency at the region’s plants and a better environment. This would also have a positive effect on foreign investments influx and strengthen foreign relations. Early Kyoto mechanisms could be tested thus helping draw more carbon investment to the area. According to preliminary estimations, aside from positive impact on the environment and human health, the rational use of Kyoto mechanisms in Sverdlovsk region alone is capable of bringing around 190 million of Euros in investments.

While international climate agreements where Russia takes part (i.e. the Kyoto Protocol and the UN FCCC) affect our national plans, regional programs and local solutions remain in theory and declarations – says Olga Podosenova, Ural Ecological Union’s program coordinator. The real change should happen on the local level.

The report provides data on the climate, social, political and environmental state of the region, and regional climate impact (the GHG emissions) and environmental and climate risks are calculated. The analysis of possibilities and ways to reduce emissions in energy sector, RE, industry, forestry and land use, housing sector etc is contained therein.

Based on the report, suggestions to the governmental Strategy of regional socio-economical development were prepared. In the future, NGO representatives are planning on monitoring how regional authorities are preparing the low-carbon strategy and on discussing the ways of implementing clean energy into the regional economy.